Gualdo Cattaneo, the village of castles
A journey to discover the system of medieval castles and buildings characterising the territory of Gualdo Cattaneo
Beyond that for the jewels inside its ancient walls, it deserves a visit also for the system of medieval castles and buildings characterising its area: a real defensive complex that represents an extraordinary open-air museum.
After the Castle of Gualdo Cattaneo, at the centre of a square overlooked by the Fortress, an equilateral triangle-shaped small fortress with three intercommunicating towers that are connected by underground with the underlying castle walls, we can find the Castle of Pozzo that, immersed in the green of olive trees, overlooks the valley of Puglia. Significant are the architectural layout and the particular medieval views offered by the above mentioned castle.
The Castle of Cisterna Alta, rising on a hill overlying the river Puglia, dates back to the 13th century and today it is in decent conditions, with the high medieval tower that is still well visible, and a residential nucleus of the nineteenth century is located next to it.
The Castle of Marcellano is located at the border between the districts of Gualdo Cattaneo and Giano dell'Umbria and its origins date back to the 12th century. It’s famous for the living crib that is set up each year during the Christmas holidays. The whole village is involved in the representation with installations and traditional life scenes of the medieval time with tens of figures in costume, workshops displaying the ancient processing techniques, taverns with hot wine and local gastronomic excellencies. The Sacred Representation of the Nativity takes place in a unique scenery at sunset.
Instead the Castle of Saragano (few kilometres from St. Terenziano) has apparently Longobard origins and was the residence of the Roman consul Lucio Lucinio Sura (who maybe gave his name to the castle).
The Castle of Ceralto can be considered a timeless fortunate island thanks to its distinctive location, immersed in the natural environment of the oak and the Turkey oak, and it presents an original mixture of the location, the architectonic typology and the absolute peace surrounding it. One of the biggest Umbrian holm oaks grows in the surroundings of the castle, with an estimated age of around 200 years.
The Castle of Barattano, that maybe represents the more marked archetype of the system of Gualdo castles, has good conditions. Located few kilometres from Gualdo, it is characterized by a structural morphology equipped with large town walls, a medieval entrance door, typical alleys and high towers. It preserves within it the church of St. Bartolomeo (13th century) with frescoes of the 16th and 17th century and two 16th century wooden angels.
On the top of an isolated hill, the Castle of Towers dominates the underlying valley crossed by the St. Terenziano - Bastardo road. A curved entrance door, topped by the eagle of Todi’s emblem, leads to the inside of the building hosting the houses next to the outer circles of walls.
On the opposite side, we can find the Castle of St. Terenziano, built in the 14th century to defend the population. It was built according to a traditional squared plant, by using the local stone. Its interior hosts the church of St. Terenziano, a rare example of building made of two overlapped churches: the lower church in the 11th century and the upper one at the end of 1200.
The system of castles is completed by: the Castle of Grutti, halfway between Massa Martana and Todi, whose medieval structure remain today some high towers, the Castle of Speltara, on the St. Terenziano - Collazzone Road, an abandoned ancient castle with a squared plant as well as a unique and high corner tower, the Castle of Simigni, next to the hamlet of Bastardo, founded in 1103 and currently of private property, the Castle of Forte Sorgnano and the Castle of Pomonte, whose structure is today surrounded by a rich vegetation; with a quadrilateral plant, it has on its corners small towers.
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